50/50 Casing Tek

The Nook : Archives : Casings: Casing Teks : 50/50 Casing Tek
  Subtopic Posts Updated Creator
Water Delivery to Casings 1 5/03 Nan
Casing Overview  -    

By Admin (Admin) on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 11:36 am: The Nook


Peat Moss (lawn & garden dept.)
Crushed Oyster Shell (pet store)
Hydrated Lime
Bottled Water


Mix together equal parts of vermiculite and peat moss to create a 50/50 mixture of both. Add 15% crushed oyster shells and 8% hydrated lime by volume, to the overall 50/50 mix. Then proceed to add this casing soil as usual. The lime acts as a buffering agent for the pH, and put contaminants behind. From The Hawk's Eye

Here is a real easy casing mix that works great for cubensis, and other species. The original idea came from White Rabbit, and my friend has modified it a little bit. he's had great success with this easy method, and he's sure there are even better mixes out there, but this does work well, and is easy.

At the end of this document, look read the update 50/50 + (PLUS) Casing Tek. I highly recommend the 50/50+ tek over any other casing recipe out there.. the addition of limestone and crushed oyster shell to the 50/50 mix makes a big differnce.

50/50 Casing Tek

My friend uses plastic trays, bought at Home Depot in the garden section, there black, about 2 feet long, 18" wide and about 3 to 4 inches deep, very thin plastic. You can cut and tape these to fit the exact size of the bottom of your aqurium, leaving about a 1/2" on all sides for the moisture to go around them and drip down the glass and not in your container. You want to use plastic tape and not masking tape or it will fall apart when it gets soggy. You also want to use trays that are black or non transparent so light doesn't seep down to the substrate below, or the mushrooms may fruit from under the casing layer and up the sides of the casing instead of on top of the casing layer where they should. OK, now the fun part. Take vermiculite, mix in abowl with water until its real moist, squeezing excess water out, then drop about1/2" layer across the bottom of your container. Then take fresh cakes from the jars, cut them like a cucumber into slices about 1" thick, put these slices over the layer of vermiculite. Take some colonized substrate.. and gently crumble to fill in the places in between the the slices of substrate.. so your entire layer of substrate is pretty much filled without gaps in between the slices or the sides.

Now, one of two choices: Either cover this with saran wrap and let sit for 24 to 48 hours before continuing on or skipping this recovery period. This part is very good if you found your cakes were not 100% colonized and needs a few more days for the mycelium to grow over any uncolonized sections. Although I would recommend cuttiong out any uncolonized part of the cake first.. then what you have left is 100% colonized. If this does not apply, then move to next step.

Next, take a mixture of 50% peat moss and 50% vermiculite, sterilized or pasturized (more info on that at the bottom) real moist, once again squeeze out excess water, then just lightly place it over the mycelium layer, about a 1/2" to 3/4"" just so its cover the mycelium layer. You can also use a little deeper layer, about 3/4" to 1" to allow for a stronger casing layer that will be helpfull for more flushes. The downside is it takes a little longer to colonize...and fruit.. but in the long run is well worth it. Put your container back in your aquiruim right on top of perlite. I would recommend keeping the light off for the first week, but even leaving it on for 12/12 will not make that much difference. Within about 2 days you'll start seeing the mycelium overtake the casing layer, you want to add a light amount of 50/50 mix over these first high spots so all the mycelium is coming to the surface around the same time, although this is not written in stone.

Within a week to 2 weeks it will be almost completly covered in mycelium. Then the mycelium will stop growing for a few days.. the mycelium network is establishing itself... becoming stronger and stonger preparing to produce mushrooms. Then pinning will start....lots of bright white small dots about the size of a pen head.. these will form into mushrooms soon thereafter... Harvest time is usally 2 -3 weeks after casing. As a general rule.. you do not want to mist your casing during this colonization period.. provided you have adequate humidity and fresh air. The ideal humidity for casings is 85% -92%. The reason you dont want to be misting your casing soil..during this period is because water condensation build up on the mycleium is not good.. it will slow the growth down of he mycelium and possible introduce contams easier. The mycelium will pull most if its moisture from the casing soil itself and from the humidity in the air. Ideally, you should try and harvest your first flush all around the same time, or within a 24 hour period. Then put a light sprinkling of 50/50 mixback over the spots where you pulled the mushrooms from. You want to put down fresh casing in those places where you pulled the mushrooms from to help protect that substarte below.. make sure the casing soil has been sterilized or pasturized. The reason you want to try and pull all the mushrooms around the same time...is this will help the mycelium network recover faster and prepare for a second flush. You want to start misting again after you have harvested your first flush....give it a real real good misting.. so the soil looks moist again.. but not saturated.... you shouldnt need to mist again until after the next flush.. and so on. Now this is not written in stone... this is only if your growing conditions is ideal.. growing outside can be different....you may need to light mist the soil every few days becuase the soil dries out faster.... so the rule to follow.. is if your casing soil looks real dry....starts changing and getting a real light dried out soil look..then go ahead and give it a light misting. After the first flush... you can look forward to your next flush in about a week. You will get huge flushes from this method. If somewhere along the way you start to see contamination in any part of the soil, cut it out immediatly, making a big cut way away from the contaminated part. Putting down a big fresh spot of casing soil where you cut it out. Its pretty typical for casings to get hit by the green mold trichoderma after a few flushes...but by keeping your hands, arms and tools clean.. and wearing a face mask.. and using fresh sterilized soil for pathces...this will help prevent it from happening to soon.

50/50+ (Plus) Casing Tek

My friend has started adding %8-10 limestone and %15 crushed oyster shell, by volume, to the over all 50/50 mix and likes the results from this casing much better. The soil seems to give the mushrooms more support so when your harvesting your not digging out deep chunks of mycelium from the substrate, instead they pull out real easy from the surface. The mushrooms also seem to grow much bigger this way.... being they have a stonger base into the mycelium network. When mixing the casing substrate, a lot of the oyster shell and limestone sink to the bottom, so mix it and squeeze it real good when placing over the substrate. ......

Tips on sterilizing and pasturizing substrate:

There has been a lot of discussion on weather its better to sterilize the casing soil or not. In my friends studies.. he has found that sterilizing it is better. Some ppl like to pasturize it. Thats ok to.. but he prefers to sterilize it. My friend buys filter patch bags from Fungi Perfecti ... these are large autoclavable bags (meaning they can go in the pressure canner and survive the heat without melting) with a filter on them for gas exchange... although for sterilizing the casing soil, the patch does not matter. Basically after mixing up all the dry ingrediants, (pulling out all the stix from the peat moss) for the 50/50 + mix... add in your water...mix real good....have your bag handy... squeeze out most of the water from the casing mix...so its just slightly dripping...then put it into the bag.. filled about 3/4 full. Put this in your pressure canner.. keeping it away from the sides... sometimes they will melt if touching the sides....and sterilize at 15 p.s.i for 45 minutes. Let this completly cool before using.... Now at this point.. the pressure cooker is going to take out some of the moisture.. just make sure when you go to use it as your casing soil... you squeeze out the water till its barely dripping.. and not running water. Here is another strange kicker.... my friend puts his bag outside...in the shade... with the top folded/rolled down.. with a plate on their to hold the bag shut ...so no bugs can fly in... and just lets it sit outside for a few days or weeks before using it. When you sterilize it.. your killing any eggs of larva or other unwanted bacteria in the vermiculite.. or mostly peat moss... and then.. well.. this is only his theory.. no scientific data to support this....but by putting it back outside... it regains some of the needed microorganisms' that the casing soil lost during sterilization. Now perhaps his theory is right.. or perhaps he's just been lucky...but he has seen a lot less trichoderma hit his casings since he started doing this. Another important note.. when the time comes to use the soil.. make sure the moisture content is right..if to moist.. squeeze the water out till its barely dripping.. if to dry.. then add in some bottled mountain spring water then sqeeuze it back out.

Another tip.. if you dont have the resources to buy the Fungi Perfect filter patch bags.. the plastic bags the peat moss and vermiculite come in work fine as well.. Just cut the rubber zipper seal off them so they dont melt... and use them the same as above.. just keeping them away from the edge of the cooker.

If you dont own a pressure canner/cooker .. then pasurize this mix. You pasturize by putting it inside.. say an old pillow case.. and put it on a boiling pot of water.. temp around 150f for 1 hour.

A tip on humidity:

If you dont have a humidity gauge... one sure way my friend has found to determine humidity from looking at his guages, is by judgeing the condesation on the walls of your grow chamber. For casings you want around 85%-92% humidity. If you see the walls of your grow chamber just sweating away with condensation... and their dripping constantly.. then you more then likely have 100% humidity, this is fine for cakes.. but not casings. To judge 85%-92% humidity.. you should only see light condensation on the walls.. with the occaisional dripping. This is after some fresh air has pumped into your chamber and you let it sit for an hour or two. Also.. those cheap plastic gauges you buy from pet stores.. they dont work. Even most of the ones sold by cigar stores are made by plastic companies. For a good analog meter.. cigar stores carry one made by Cigar Perfect for $12. This model is made by an instamental company, and not a plactic company and works well.

Well.. we hope all of this helps... soon we'll be updating this page with our experiments with scratching the surface.. but up until now my friend has seen no reason to use it.. as you can tell from the great pictures at www.thehawkseye.com. Almost every singe flush you see on this site.. has used the 50/50+ formuala described above for casing...it works!!!!

Casings : Shroom Glossary

By george jeremy (Mofo187) on Saturday, December 08, 2001 - 01:37 am: The Nook

is the 50/50 casing tek the best way to get high yields, for beginners? i've grown on 1/2 pint cakes and gotten decent results, but nothing like the pictures i see of an entire case bursting with mushrooms. i'm a beginner and have had ok results, but i'm looking to bring the yield up without taking too many risks. is the 50/50 casing tek for me?

By quote: (Quote) on Saturday, December 08, 2001 - 03:06 am: The Nook

it might be.
but realize two things--
1. no one posts pics of their failures, only their best.
2. until you begin growing from a cloned strain proven to fruit well, you'll never get the really massive flushes seen with any regularity.

By nuecrew (Nue) on Saturday, December 08, 2001 - 11:03 am: The Nook

Before I got a computer my only shroom connection was PF spores in Seattle and 6 years of 1/2 pint cakes. I invented many different designs of chambers and wasted alot of time and money. With Nanook & Co. for the last year I've tried three new teks with success with a 10 gallon aquarium and a spray bottle. These people are the fast track to success. Read on.

Posted by: Nanook Nov 22 02, 02:35 PM GMT
Hey, nan, I am planning on doing a 50/50 casing today or tomorrow...I don't have the crushed oyster shells, only the hydrated lime from my cactus soil mix...I don't have a car and there are no petstores nearby me - is it worth it to go out and get the oyster shell or can I just use the lime or do a plain 50/50 with no additives...I just want to get the hang of it...also, how should I sterilize the peat moss and vermiculite...can I do it in the microwave or must I PC the mixtures?



I am going to post this...

You can skip the shell, just add a TAD more lime. I dry steam sterilize my casing in the pc. I place a perforated plate on stand offs out of the water, place a pillow case in and fill with casing to the top, fold the pillow case over and cover with foil. 20 min sterilization time.

You can also pastuerize in water, squeeze the pillow case out and use wet. Or you can moisten and bake in the oven. Try 9er Tek Casing for some tips

Good luck!

Posted by: joseph Nov 23 02, 06:44 AM GMT
I think oyster shells are benificial for a casing layer. The shells keep the casing layer airy, which the mycelium seems to prefer. This will also help prevent the casing layer from settling and becoming a dense layer which can prevent mushroom formation. This is acually a lesson learned.

Or throw out the 50/50, and go 40/60. More vermiculite means more water retaining. The peat can act as an indicator of the casing layers moisture content. Then again, there is always coir....

Never used the oven for anything, always found the microwave to be sufficiant and simple.

Just my 2 cents

Posted by: Nanook Nov 23 02, 10:42 AM GMT
I agree, shells do help. But you can get by without them if you come up empty handed.

Posted by: scotsman Nov 23 02, 02:22 PM GMT
the reason i stick to just plain old 50\50 is because the other stuff is hard to get and i cant be bothered looking for it
so the only advice i can give is if you go by just 50\50 you will still get by and get a few good flushes

i spray the surface for a few days , till i see more than just a bit of colonization

50\50 casing